More Bad News From the US

As Texas executes its 400th prisoner since they reintroduced capital punishment in 1976, the Bush Administration is moving to withdraw appeal rights for prisoners on Death Row.

Texas executes 400th inmate

By Martina Smit, The Telegraph UK 24/08/2007

A man convicted of shooting dead a store clerk during a robbery has become the 400th person to be executed by Texas since the US Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment in 1976.

The southern state accounts for almost a third of the 1,091 American executions over the last three decades, and this year it will be responsible for almost two thirds – 21 out of 35 judicial killings so far.

About 14 protestors gathered outside the Huntsville Unit in Huntsville, Texas, as Johnny Conner – who has never confessed to his crime – was executed by lethal injection last night.

Conner, 32, was convicted in 1999 of killing Kathyanna Nguyen, 49, by shooting her in the face during an attempted robbery of the Houston petrol station and convenience store where she worked.

“What is happening to me now is unjust and the system is broken,” Conner said as he lay strapped to the execution gurney.

“Please forgive me,” he told the victim’s sister through the windows of the death chamber.


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Bush’s Bid for a Death Penalty Fast Track

By Andrew Gumbel, The Independent UK. Posted August 22, 2007.

A look at the White House’s plans to cut death row inmates’ right of appeal.

The Bush administration is preparing to speed up the executions of criminals who are on death row across the United States, in effect, cutting out several layers of appeals in the federal courts so that prisoners can be “fast-tracked” to their deaths.

With less than 18 months to go to secure a presidential legacy, President Bush has turned to an issue he has specialised in since approving a record number of executions while Governor of Texas.

The US Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales — Mr Bush’s top legal adviser during the spree of executions in Texas in the 1990s — is putting finishing touches to regulations, inspired by recent anti-terrorism legislation, that would allow states to turn to the Justice Department, instead of the federal courts, as a key arbiter in deciding whether prisoners live or die.

The US is already among the top six countries worldwide in terms of the numbers of its own citizens that it puts to death. Fifty-two Americans were executed last year and thousands await their fate on death row.

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One comment

  1. I watched a documentary recently about a US prosecutor who had come to the conclusion that he’d asked for the death penalty in a case – where it transpired later the defendant was in all likelihood innocent.

    Too late the defendant was killed by the state.

    The prosecutor is now vehemently anti-death penalty, as he knows some of the blood is also on his hands.

    This prosecutor was just some American bloke who had decided to become a lawyer in college.

    He’s just a man. Fallible. With fallible witnesses and fallible evidence because that is the nature of things.

    Yet, because the US allows the death penalty, the ‘power over life and death’ is vested in any man or woman who simply passes the bar.

    That’s it.

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